After our few days in Zermatt, we hopped on a train bound for Venice. From this point in the trip, we were both in uncharted waters; neither of us had been to Italy or Greece before. But visiting Venice was high on D’s priority list, so that’s where we started in Italy. It is a truly beautiful place, quite unlike anywhere else in the world.
For accommodation, we booked a decent apartment near San Marco Piazza through GoWithOh. It was a 2-3 minute walk from San Marco Piazza which meant that no matter how lost we got in Venice, as long as we could find our way back to the piazza, we could find our way back to the apartment! The apartment had a pretty tiny shower (the bathroom itself was actually quite large) but was quite spacious overall, and with a kitchen and washing machine, it was a much better option than staying in a hotel.
As for getting lost in Venice, it happened. Many times. But for some reason it is the kind of place where it didn’t matter. I think it is part of the charm of the city; a right of passage some might say. Thankfully there were enough signs pointing to landmarks like the Rialto Bridge or San Marco Piazza that we always managed to find our bearings eventually.
Not a lot of restaurants came across my radar when I was researching Venice, so I downloaded Elizabeth Minchilli’s ‘Eat Venice’ app for some guidance. As she explains in the app, Venice streets and buildings aren’t numbered in the same way many of us are used to. Buildings are given a number and a neighbourhood as their address, which doesn’t work well with Google Maps. Hence the reason we got lost so many times!
Whilst we knew that places to eat close to San Marco Piazza were probably a no-go, we used the app to find places that were still easily accessible on foot, rather than having to take a water taxi. There was one place we both agreed on eating at – Osteria da Alberto. The first night we arrived without a booking and couldn’t get a table, so we made a booking for the next night and went in search of Portego, another restaurant in the app that sounded good. Try as we might, we could not find the place – and we had Elizabeth’s app with maps and Google Maps at our disposal! A local saw us struggling to figure out where we were and offered to take us. In the end, the place was nowhere near where we were – I’m not sure if he expected payment upon dropping us off, or if he was just being nice, but he didn’t ask and we didn’t offer.
As for the food at Portego, they didn’t have a table when we arrived, but they had a counter full of smaller snacks that we ordered a few of. When a table became available they made us wait a good 10 minutes before they finally said we could have it – I can only guess they were hoping a party of four would come in to give the table to. As for the food, it wasn’t anything to write home about.
So, the next night we ventured back to Alberto and had a great meal. It’s not fancy by any means, but has a warm and inviting atmosphere and some simple, well cooked food. Highly recommended.
D had sweet and sour sardines that were wrapped in onions, pine nuts and raisins to start … (the recipe for this is on their website)
… followed by spaghetti with scampi. D says the serve was generous, the pasta was cooked well and the tomato flavour didn’t overwhelm the scampi. Beyond that, he can’t remember very much (it has been a while!).
I started with gnocchi that was swimming in a cheese sauce (it was actually very good) …
… followed by scotch fillet (I think) that was so tender I didn’t need a knife to cut it with.
We decided not to have dessert there, but rather get gelati on the way home. And that’s when things got interesting. While we were in our little bubble having dinner, the tide came in. Big time. Try as we might to find different ways to get home without having to wade through water, in the end it was easier to take our shoes off, roll up our pants and go with the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” motto. What’s travel without these kinds of stories to bring home?
Given we had now entered Italy, I made it my quest to try as much gelato as possible. A place called Alaska had come up several times in my research and while we found the place easily enough, we both were disappointed by the gelato there. I had the lemon and strawberry and found both flavours lacking in, well, flavour. Maybe I just chose badly?
For our final night, I booked us in to a night walking tour through Viator that also included a group gondola ride. The walking tour was great; our guide was very knowledgeable and witty which made for an entertaining evening. We were all given individual receivers with headphones which meant that we could always hear what the guide had to say, even if we were lagging behind. We really enjoyed that the tour took us through parts of Venice we hadn’t been to yet, so it was nice to explore other areas, but the gondola ride was underwhelming. I was too paranoid that the gondola was going to tip over to relax and enjoy myself; it didn’t help that the warning sirens were going off, warning of another high tide coming in!
Here’s a few more photos of Venice to finish – next stop is Tuscany.